The 10 MMA Fighters with the Bleakest Futures
In the fast-moving world of mixed martial arts, fans and pundits alike can't help but gaze into their crystal ball. It's why we always want to hear one fighter call out their next opponent as soon as Joe Rogan hands them a microphone after a big win.
However, not everyone's future looks so bright. Some Zuffa fighters are on the cusp of being released. Others are stuck outside of the UFC looking in. There are even some top names who fight in the Octagon who simply don't have much to look forward to.
Here is a look at 10 fighters whose futures are looking pretty bleak.
Was there any doubt that Melvin Guillard would find himself on this list? Despite the fact that powerhouse lightweight was in title contention as recently as 2011, Guillard's career has taken a detour directly off of a cliff as of late.
Currently, "The Young Assassin" is amid a 1-4 skid that includes losses to Jamie Varner and Donald Cerrone. Couple that with the fact that Guillard failed to make weight at UFC 150 and you can see why he isn't going to win any Employee of the Month awards.
Despite being only 29 years old, Guillard's body has taken the toll of 45 professional fights. While his age may suggest that he could keep fighting for another decade, it looks as if this fighter's career has plateaued.
Following the footsteps of Brock Lesnar, some pegged the esteemed wrestler as the next big thing in MMA. Lashley debuted in Strikeforce after compiling a 4-0 record in independent organizations, and the former ECW champion quickly routed UFC veteran Wes Sims in his first fight with the company.
Since that time, Lashley has gone 2-2, which includes losses to Chag Griggs (hold the laughs, please) and tomato can James Thompson (now you can laugh).
Due to his tenure with WWE, Lashley has been afforded more opportunities than fighters who possess comparable skills. "The Real Deal" reportedly signed a contract to compete under the WSOF banner
The UFC tenure of Chris Leben has been inconsistent to say the least. Sometimes, "The Crippler" finds himself on a tear, where he rips through highly regarded fighters like Wanderlei Silva and Yoshihiro Akiyama.
Other times, Leben comes short against relatively unknown fighters like Derek Brunson and Jake Rosholt.
The loss to Brunson came in Leben's most recent performance. It was his third loss in four appearances. Aside from his trouble putting together wins, Leben has battled with substance abuse for years, including an addiction to painkillers.
As one of the most identifiable figures of MMA's modern era, fans want to see Chris get his life together and return to his winning ways. However, through 31 fights, this sport has taken its toll on The Crippler.
Can the crimson-haired warrior salvage his legacy? Or is it too late?
What is Rampage Jackson going to do now? After feeling disrespected by the UFC, the PRIDE megastar parted ways with Zuffa back in January. Unfortunately for him, his departure comes on the heels of a trio of one-sided losses inside the Octagon.
However, with several reports that Jackson's primary concern with the UFC stemmed from his perceived low pay, it's hard to imagine that anyone is going to sign the former world champion at a rate that will please him.
No one can refute that Jackson is a popular figure in the ever-expanding world of mixed martial arts. However, Hollywood hasn't exactly been knocking down his door for more movie roles after his performance in The A Team earned this review:
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson possesses about a fifth of the charisma Mr. T brought to Baracus, and none of the originality, and acts about as well as you’d expect an Ultimate Fighting Championship vet to.
I pity the fool who walks away from the UFC.
You'll notice that a lot of the fighters on this list are aging veterans or fighters who have come up short in a title fight or two. Urijah Faber is the rare breed of superstar who is so popular that he is constantly thrown into title fights. The only problem is that he lost his last five.
With losses to Jose Aldo, Dominick Cruz and Renan Barao, there isn't a lot of room for upward movement for The California Kid.
I almost didn't include Faber on this list after the announcement of Renan Barao vs. Eddie Wineland for the interim UFC bantamweight championship.
Eddie winning that fight would open a major door for Urijah. After all, Faber defeated Wineland back at UFC 128, and the UFC brass would be tempted to book Faber vs. Wineland II if it gives them the opportunity to put a belt on The California Kid.
That being said, the chances of Wineland upsetting Barao aren't good enough for me to take Faber seriously.
Joey Beltran is not long for the UFC. In the midst of a firing spree, his current employment appears to be more of an oversight than anything else.
Beltran has been victorious in only one of his last seven UFC appearances. You read that correctly. One in seven.
As if you needed any indication of how dreadful a 1-5 (1) record is, I'll elaborate. In baseball, the slugger's batting average would be a whopping .142.
The light heavyweight division as a whole is fairly depleted. The UFC only has 36 contracted fighters in this class, and it is arguably the weakest division for Bellator also.
Options for Beltran are pretty slim if he gets canned. Bleak might be an understatement.
At 37 years old, Tim Sylvia knows that his career is on its last legs. Last year, the former UFC champion campaigned for one more opportunity inside the Octagon.
Not only did Sylvia offer to fight for the promotion's minimum salary, but he was also willing to reenter the organization through The Ultimate Fighter competition.
At the time, it made sense to bring a former world champion back to the Octagon. "The Maine-iac" was 7-1 in recent competition and 3-0 since dropping down to heavyweight.
Unfortunately, Dana White didn't take the bait, and Sylvia was forced to look for big-name fights elsewhere.
In his last two performances, Sylvia fought to a no contest against Andrei Arlovski and then lost a decision to Olympian Satoshi Ishii. With absolutely no momentum on his side, it looks like Sylvia will never get the UFC return he dreams of.
Despite three very close fights against two reigning world champions, fans have turned on the "unstoppable underdog" Frankie Edgar. Fixated on his losing streak instead of the fact that he is undoubtedly one of the best pound-for-pound talents on the planet.
Both Jose Aldo and Benson Henderson appear poised to reign over their respective weight classes for the foreseeable future. This leaves "The Answer" in a position where he is forced to take exciting fights that won't necessarily lead him back into the title picture, similar to Rich Franklin or Wanderlei Silva.
With the featherweight division being notoriously underappreciated, it's going to be very difficult for Frankie to reclaim the status he once had.
On three occasions, Michael Bisping has been promised a title fight with a win, but he's come up short in each. Overall, his record against world champions is 0-5. Congratulations, sir. You will forever be a gatekeeper.
However, for some reason, fans actually think that Bisping will one day be a world champion. For more on this phenomenon, please read The Myth of Michael Bisping.
Love him or hate him, no one can question the skills of Josh Koscheck. The bleached-blonde badass from Season 1 of The Ultimate Fighter has outwrestled and outstruck many foes throughout his 22 appearances inside the Octagon. However, with losses in three of his last five contests, things look pretty bleak.
In his most recent performance, "Kos" was a 5-to-1 favorite, according to oddsmakers. However, nobody told unranked powerhouse Robbie Lawler about that, and Koscheck found himself napping on the canvas before the end of the first round.
For the first time in more than five years, Koscheck finds himself ranked outside of the welterweight Top 10. With the theory that Kos could be part of the UFC's current firing spree, bleak doesn't quite sum up the grim nature of Koscheck's future.